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10 signs that climate change success is coming


Garry Knight under a Creative Commons Licence

The battle to fend off the worst ravages of climate change and usher in a low-carbon world has been a long and difficult one. There have been more downs than ups in recent years.

Sluggish international political negotiations have failed to keep pace with the technological breakthroughs in renewable energy and the scientific and economic evidence for taking action against overbearing reliance on fossil fuels. There is much work to be done but it is clear that progressive momentum is finally building on a number of fronts.

1. The first of recent rumblings comes from an unusual source. The Oil Minister of the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, Saudi Arabia’s Ali al-Naimi, spoke in mid-May about how he could see the phase-out of fossil fuels by mid-century and said his country planned to become a global leader in solar and wind energy.

2. On 3 June, the world’s largest furniture retailer, IKEA, pledged $1 billion of climate finance, dwarfing amounts pledged by some entire countries.
The money would be split with $600 million in renewable energy investments putting the company on track to become energy independent. The other $400 million would go to help vulnerable communities affected by climate change, setting an example for national governments that they need to split their own finance contributions between mitigation-focused spending to reduce emissions, and adaptation to help at-risk countries.

3. The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, Norway’s $890-billion pension fund, has just agreed to divest $10 billion of coal stocks, joining a global divestment movement turning its back on the most polluting fossil fuel.

4. On 8 June, a study by Lord Stern and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics revealed that Chinese emissions could peak by as early as 2025, 5 years ahead of a government-agreed deadline of 2030.

5. On the same day, a poll by the International Trade Union Confederation showed that 9 out of 10 people around the world are demanding their elected leaders do more to tackle climate change.

6. In what was clearly a busy day for climate news, 8 June concluded with front-page headlines around the world as the G7 called for the decarbonization of the global economy by the end of the century and announced reform of the national energy systems of G7 nations.

7. Even the UN climate negotiations are showing progress, aiming to peak at the first fully global pact to begin addressing climate change at the COP21 meeting in Paris in December. Countries are in the process of submitting their ‘intended nationally determined contributions’, or INDCs, which will make up the Paris deal.

8. Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, said it would target a 64% reduction in its current emissions trajectory within 15 years. At the UN talks in Bonn, countries asked for the co-chairs of the negotiations for the Paris deal to provide a clearer agreement for ministers to work on, suggesting they are beginning to realize the need for more urgent progress.

9. This momentum is expected to continue this week with the publication of Pope Francis’ Papal Encyclical on the Environment on Thursday, which will likely argue that humanity’s exploitation of the planet’s resources has pushed the world to breaking point and make the case for an ethical and economic revolution to address climate change.

10. On Wednesday 17 June, people are urged to take part in the first mass lobby of Britain’s Parliament. Up to 10,000 people are expected outside Westminster in London to speak to MPs, urging them to make tackling climate change a government priority. The event is being organized by The Climate Coalition, consisting of more than 100 British organizations, from Christian Aid to Surfers Against Sewage, calling for a clean, safe and prosperous planet.

From oil-producing nations and furniture shops to economists and the Pope, the world is seemingly beginning to get on board the transition to a low-carbon world.

For details of Wednesday’s mass climate lobby, visit www.fortheloveof.org.uk/speakup.

Joe Ware is Church & Campaigns Journalist at Christian Aid.

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